Mark F. O'Brien

Retired from the University of Michigan 12/31/2017

I was the Insect Division Collection Manager at the UMMZ from 1981-2017.

I have over 30 years of experience as an entomologist, and have worked on the biology of various sand wasps, forest entomology, and more recently, dragonflies. My expertise has been in the area of insect natural history, and the biology and distribution of Hymenoptera and Odonata in Michigan. My interest continues in the documentation of adventive species in Michigan, especially Hymenoptera.

In the area of Bioinformatics, I have participated in several iDigBio workshops, and have presented on topics of specimen imaging and digital archiving of collection-related materials.

I have served on several Michigan DNR committees to review threatened and endangered species. I have been a member of the Michigan Entomological Society since 1981, served as president twice, and was editor of the Great Lakes Entomologist for 10 years. I am now an honorary life member, and I currently serve as the MES webmaster.

I also coordinate the Michigan Odonata Survey. The MOS has been in existence since 1997, and with over 27,000 database records, thousands of new locality records, over 10 species added to the state list, and hundreds of hours of fieldwork, the time has come for the definitive catalog of Michigan Odonata. It is coming along slowly, but Julie Craves and I are collaborating on the Michigan Odonata Atlas, which we hope to have finished by 2019. You can check on our progress here: Michigan Odonata Atlas

Michigan Odonotes is the sometimes occasional blog I maintain on my activities with Michigan Odonata.

When I'm not being an entomologist, I am a photographer, and have been exhibited in 14 shows since 2007. You can see more of my photography on Flickr. My photography blog might interest you too. I was also a board member of the Michigan Photographic Historical Society for 5 years.

 You can reach me at mfobrien(AT)

Recent Publications

See my publications on Research Gate.

2009. Odonatological History in Michigan - 1875-1996. Great Lakes Entomol. 41:1-11. [PDF]

2010. Arigomphus submedianus (Odonata: Gomphidae) to be removed from the Michigan list of Odonata. Argia. 22(3):16-17.

2012. Book Review: Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East. Argia 24(1) 25-26.

2012. Anthidium oblongatum (Apoidea: Megachilidae) confirmed as a Michigan resident, with notes on other Michigan Anthidium species. Great Lakes Entomol. 45:102-105.(O'Brien, M.F., D.R. Swanson and J. Monsma)

2014. Great Lakes Odonata Bibliography. Michigan Odonata Survey Technical Note. No. 4.  11 pp. (

Cognato, A.I. and M.F. O’Brien. 2014. The woodlouse hunter occurs in Michigan (Araneae: Dysderidae: Dysdera crocata C.L. Koch 1838). The Great Lakes Entomologist. 46(3-4):242-243.

2014. Epiaeschna heros (Swamp Darner) in Michigan -- A mystery no longer. Argia 26(2) 8-9.

2015. Putting the Ghosts into the Machine. Digitizing Field Notebooks at the UMMZ. Entomological Collections Network Annual Meeting: Digitization Efforts Session. Available from: (accessed December, 2015)

O'Brien, M.F. and D. S. O'Brien. 2015. Orocharis saltator (Orthoptera: Gryllidae) -- Now present in Michigan. Newsl. Michigan Entomological Society. 60 (1&2):4.

O'Brien, M.F., J.A. Craves & D.S. O'Brien. 2016. Great Spreadwing (Archilestes grandis) in Michigan: More evidence for the potential role of restoration projects in range expansions. Argia 28(1):5-7.

O'Brien, M.F., J.A. Craves. 2017. Phyllopalpus pulchellus Uhler, the Handsome Trig (Orthoptera: Gryllidae), a confirmed Michigan resident. Great Lakes Entomologist 49( 3&4):202-203.

O'Brien, M.F., D.S. O'Brien, and J.A. Craves. 2017. Cordulegaster erronea Hagen in Selys (Tiger Spiketail) Rediscovered in Michigan (Odonata:Cordulegastridae). Great Lakes Entomologist 50 (1-2):1-5.

White, H.B., and O'Brien, M.F. 2017. Naming an undescribed dragonfly: Williamson's Williamsonia and the travails of R. Heber Howe Jr. Northeastern Naturalist, Vol. 24, Monograph 14, 43 pp.






last updated 3/20/2017